Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Lobby by Christopher A. Durish

Walls closing in. 
Crowded blood soaked recollection ... 

This is just a small stanza of The Lobby's opening lines. It's a book that, after a brief skimming, was supposed to put be put down in favor of more pressing titles. However, what began as a mere perusal ended up being the catalyst fire for reading the entire novel ... a sure sign Christopher A. Durish knows the right hooks.   

Zachary Bell is an up and coming yuppie in the world of advertising. He's a married father of two daughters living in New York. Yet his existence resembles nothing constituting the American dream. For his nights are spent attending the sordid parties of a wealthy elite, and succumbing to infidelity. More distressing is his apathy and utter lack of conscience. So when Zach's car plunges off a cliff in the aftermath of one of his infamous parties (his mistress at his side), it is no little surprise to observe he feels no remorse for her resulting death ... 

From here, we're treated to a kind of surrealistic Hell as Zachary awakens from a brief coma. Though attempting to return to stability he's assaulted with fleeting images of the afterlife and creatures germane to that realm. This is where things crank up, as Christopher paints a mesmerizing picture of the underworld's environs and those souls who skate along the peripheral abyss. That said, The Lobby tackles a Judaeo-Christian mythology ... and those who find this belief system somewhat implausible when trying to get their chills may be disappointed. However, The Lobby's prose, like an intricate webbing of the grotesque, is maturely handled and not bogged down with dialogue. I was eerily reminded, pleasantly so, of novels like Dean Koontz's Hideaway or perhaps one of the latter (but better), Hellraiser adaptations.

At times the horror on show can be somewhat cliché in the details, and certain paragraphs will have the same word repeated multiple times (a pet hate of mine), but overall this is an excursion worth taking. Here, the domesticity of family is handled deftly, and there is an oddly comforting chaos as Zachary is propelled toward his destiny.

Without using any eloquence, I'll just say I really enjoyed this book: its pulpy, yet simultaneously sophisticated.

The Lobby
is available from Sense of Wonder Press.